Books: A Wrestle with the Grail

THE SILVER CHALICE (533pp.)—Thomas B. Costain—Doubleday ($3.85).

Novelist Thomas Costain has taught history to more people outside the classroom than any professional historian has ever taught inside. His swashbuckling sagas, The Black Rose and The Moneyman, not only gave readers a bowing acquaintance with the courts of Kublai Khan and medieval France, but made Costain himself the contemporary king of historical romance. To the fans who have bought nearly 5,000,000 copies of his eight books, King Costain can do no wrong, but the sad truth about his latest novel, The Silver Chalice, is that it rarely swashes and regularly buckles.

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